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Former altar boy who was sexually abused by Melbourne priest awarded almost $2million 

Former acolyte who was sexually assaulted by a Victorian priest awarded nearly $2 million

  • Former altar boy who was sexually assaulted by a priest awarded $2 million
  • Victorian priest Desmond Gannon assaulted victim three times in 1968 and 1970
  • The abuse survivor claimed the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne was liable
  • The victim considered suicide and abusing alcohol as a way to numb his pain

A former acolyte who was sexually assaulted by Victorian priest Desmond Gannon has been awarded nearly $2 million in damages in a civil suit against the Archbishop of Melbourne.

The survivor of the sexual abuse, who cannot be named for legal reasons, brought the case against Peter Comensoli, claiming that the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne was vicariously liable for his abuse.

The victim said he felt like he was dead after Gannon first attacked him – that the priest had killed him and that the little boy he was was gone forever.

He later considered suicide and abused alcohol as a way to numb his pain.

A former altar boy who was sexually assaulted by priest Desmond Gannon in 1968 and 1970 has been awarded nearly $2 million in damages.  The victim brought the case against Peter Comensoli, claiming that the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne was liable.  (Pictured: St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne)

A former altar boy who was sexually assaulted by priest Desmond Gannon in 1968 and 1970 has been awarded nearly $2 million in damages. The victim brought the case against Peter Comensoli, claiming that the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne was liable. (Pictured: St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne)

Gannon assaulted the victim three times between 1968 and 1970 while the child was an altar boy and a pupil at a Catholic primary school in the Victoria area.

The former priest was convicted of those crimes in 2009.

On one occasion, Gannon drove the boy on dirt roads to a remote area, where he assaulted and raped him. The moment the boy was terrified, Gannon would take a shovel, kill and bury him.

The boy was bleeding from the attack and tried to hide it from his family for the next few days.

On another occasion, Gannon’s abuse did not stop until he was interrupted by another altar boy who arrived at the church.

The victim escaped Gannon’s grasp for the third time when he lured him into a pump house with the promise of a cigarette.

Part of the victim’s allegation was that Gannon sexually assaulted another young Catholic boy around 1960.

A judge ruled Thursday that the archdiocese's negligence was one of the causes of the boy's sexual abuse.  The judge estimated the damage to the victim at more than $1.9 million

A judge ruled Thursday that the archdiocese’s negligence was one of the causes of the boy’s sexual abuse. The judge estimated the damage to the victim at more than $1.9 million

When the boy and his mother reported the abuse to a pastor, he fired them and did nothing — essentially on behalf of the Archdiocese.

A Victorian judge ruled Thursday that the Archdiocese’s negligence was one of the causes of the boy’s abuse, and therefore it was vicariously liable for it.

The judge estimated the damage to the victim at more than $1.9 million, with interest and costs yet to be determined.

The victim’s lawyer, Michael Magazanik of Rightside Legal, said the court’s ruling was the first against the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

“My client is thrilled and delighted that he has held the Church to account,” said Mr. Magazanik.

“It definitely changes the game for other survivors of clerical abuse.”

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